The Diversity, Abundance and Biomass of Termites under Differing Levels of Disturbance in the Mbalmayo Forest Reserve, Southern Cameroon
This paper presents data on the abundance, biomass and species richness of termites in the Mbalmayo Forest Reserve, southern Cameroon. Five plots of differing disturbance level (near primary forest, old secondary forest, young plantation, weeded Chromolaena fallow, and completely cleared forest) were sampled for termites in two successive years (July 1992 and July 1993, giving a total of ten sampling areas, plus one in the completely cleared plot in November 1992). A stratified sampling regime of soil pits, wood samples, mound samples and soil scrape samples was used. Estimated abundance and biomass were extremely high in the near primary and old secondary plot (maximum estimated abundance, old secondary sampling area 1, 10488 m-2, maximum biomass density, near primary sampling area 1, 123.2 g m-2). In all cases termite abundance was highly clumped. Disturbance had apparently little effect on termite abundances and biomass in forested plots, but there were clear reductions in abundance and biomass in the cleared plots. In the completely cleared plot, abundance and biomass fell sharply from year 1 to year 2, presumably because colonies left after clearance had dried out and died. There were large differences in the taxonomic-, nesting- and feeding-group composition of the plots, with soil feeding termites being especially strongly affected by disturbance. The sources of error associated with this sampling programme are discussed. It is argued that the near primary forest plot may have higher microhabitat and concomitant termite assemblage heterogeneity than the more disturbed plots. In most cases over 90% of the overall abundance in a sampling area was due to a few species; however, the same species were not dominant in all sampling areas. This may be due to the unpredictable dynamics of colony foundation and extinction, and will make estimations of the effect of termites on overall ecosystem processes (from abundance and biomass data alone) problematical. There is no evidence of immigration of savanna termites into the forest reserve, and thus cleared areas have depauperate forest assemblages. It is concluded that this is the most accurate estimation of termite assemblage parameters yet attempted.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- January 1996